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Interviews

Alexandra Henry: I really do love colours!

Design Stories x eporta

Every designer has their own story to tell. We sat down with Alexandra Henry, Founder of Bath based interior design firm I Love Colours to discuss hers.

Alexandra Henry, Founder, I love Colours Design Studio

Tell us a little bit about yourself and I love Colours?

My company is called I love Colours studio, the inspiration for the name came from studying painting at The Art University Bucharest. But I REALLY do love colours. I’m Romanian but moved to the UK 3 and half years ago when my daughter started school here, and I couldn’t bear to be so far away from her.

This is actually when I discovered eporta, I was scouting for products and you just bought all my research together in one place.

What made you want to become an interior designer?

Honestly, it just happened to me. I didn’t want to become a designer, 13 years ago I was working with Saatchi & Saatchi, working very long hours, my daughter was 3 at the time and I never got to see her. I decided to leave advertising and it just so happened some friends were opening up a designer shoe shop in Bucharest, and they asked me if I wanted to design it for them. I thought, I’d love to, but I’m probably not the right person to ask. However, they insisted so I gave in and said yes!

Shoe shop Alexandra designed in Bucharest
Shoe shop Alexandra designed in Bucharest

What is the best part of your role as a designer?

The best part is to see the finished product. It’s not an easy process, in the end when the client moves in or the office doors are opened and you see it’s all come together it’s really rewarding. To see the clients face it’s a struggle to be modest because you are so proud.

Dining Room in Geneva Apartment Project
Dining Room in Geneva Apartment Project

What's the hardest part of your job?

Running the project itself, staying on top of the orders, being alert because mistakes can be so expensive. This is really time-consuming and not as fun as the creative part. It also takes up a big chunk of your time, more than I’d like it to, but this is why I appreciate eporta, because it's made these things so much easier and less time-consuming.

I’m a one-man band, on big commercial projects I work with freelancers, but most of the time it’s just me, so eporta has helped me massively. I knew that I could go on eporta and find the furnishings, light fittings and all the decorations I needed for the project. This saved me so much time, both in terms of sourcing and logistics. It’s saved me so much time in fact, I was able to run several smaller projects in parallel.

Kitchen in Geneva Apartment Project
Kitchen in Geneva Apartment Project

It's so great to hear how eporta is helping you save time, is there a specific example of when we've really helped you?

I have a client in Romania they have a chain of medi-spas, they are growing at an exceptional rate, I’ve been doing at least two clinics a year for them. I've had to place an astonishing number of orders every month, I used eporta a lot as they made the projects so much easier. From finding the furniture and lighting I wanted to use through to organising deliveries, it helped so much.

Medi-spa chain in Romania that Alexandra has been working on.
Medi-spa chain in Romania that Alexandra has been working on.

What's your proudest design moment to date?

I actually have two, is that OK? The first was when I was new to this industry I got the assignment to decorate this 100-bed hotel, it took two years and after all that time when it was finished it was just so rewarding. In fact, I’m now working on refurbishing the same hotel 10 years on, looking back there are so many things I wish I would have done originally, and now I get to do them.

Restaurant design in Romania by I love Colours
Restaurant design in Romania by I love Colours

Secondly, this flat in Geneva, the whole process was interesting, I travelled there a lot. All the furniture there was so expensive I had to source much more from the UK and Italy. The owner wanted to try everything before we purchased it, to see for herself what it looked and felt like, it was great to build this kind of relationship with a client.

It was also interesting running this kind of project remotely. We had one week for installation before the clients would be returning home, so everyone on-site pulled together to get it done, which was incredible.

Master Bathroom in Geneva Apartment Project
Master Bathroom in Geneva Apartment Project

What inspires your projects?

First of all the space, I need to design. For residential owners, I like to get to know them, so I can design spaces that are meant for them. The people are what make residential projects so special.

I also design a lot of commercial spaces, for these I think of who will use them, how they'll use it and what activity they'll be doing when they use each element.

What do you look for when choosing a product?

That it’s original, something stands out about it. I also like to mix existing suppliers that I’ve worked with along with new suppliers that offer something different. I do a lot of bespoke, and suppliers enjoy doing this too, and now I know you can do that on eporta too!

eporta has also opened up new possibilities for working with international suppliers, minus the hassle. We all go to trade shows and see amazing products, then come back to the office and the reality sinks in about how difficult sourcing that item will be. There are a lot of things to consider, like setting up trade accounts, lead times and shipping. It’s not the same with eporta, I’ve easily been able to source from more international suppliers from Spain, Germany and France, it’s made all of this possible and so much simpler.

I like to look through magazines and see what other designers do...but what did we actually do before Pinterest!

What would be your one piece of advice for a designer just starting out?

Site experience is so important, they will be creative already if they do this job, but it’s great to know what’s possible and what’s not possible. I would spend a lot of time coming up with ideas that just weren't easy to do. You learn this over time, plus you get advice from builders and decorators, you get to learn from their previous project experiences too.

Hotel in Romania designed by I love Colours
Hotel in Romania designed by I love Colours

What is the most exceptional project you've seen recently & why?

I like to look through magazines and see what other designers do. Instagram and the internet are amazing sources, but what did we actually do before Pinterest?!

There is a designer I really like Joseph Dirand, everything he comes up with is amazing, he’s just a genius. His style is simple, but so elegant and considered. He's highly architectural but finds a balance between geometry, texture and colour.

Lastly Alexandra, our quick fire round. The first answer that crosses your mind, within 10 seconds is all that counts.

Where is your happy place?

I have two homes, one in Romania and one in Bath. At the latter, I have a chair my Grandma left me, I've had it restored and reupholstered, I love to sit on that chair. (I don't normally get to as my family are always on it.)

If you were an animal what would you be?

A King Charles Spaniel, they are just so sweet. Their ears are so long, when they drink milk they are actually drinking their ears.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing?

I would go back to painting, I will do one day but not yet.

3 words to describe eporta?

One stop shop (for interior designers)

Living Room in Geneva Project, by I Love colours

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